The Sustainable Cashmere Standard

In 2015, we developed the world’s first holistic sustainability standard for cashmere – the Sustainable Cashmere Standard.

At the heart of the standard are our codes of practice, which outline best practice requirements that must be followed in order for producers to become SFA Certified. We help producers to comply with the requirements of our codes of practice through training and capacity building and our credible assurance process involves independent assessment.

The Sustainable Cashmere Standard is based on extensive research and consultation with herder cooperatives, national government, industry experts and conservationists. Following ISEAL best practice guidelines, the codes of practice are refined and improved through a process of ongoing development, monitoring and evaluation.

Our standard can be used by other groups, delivery partners and programmes to promote best practice in land management, animal welfare, fibre processing and supply chain transparency.

The SFA has collaborated with ICCAW and developed a joint Cashmere Goat Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Inner Mongolia.

For more information please see our Sustainable Cashmere Standard overview and our Resources page.



Codes of Practice

Our codes of practice set out the requirements that herders and processors need to comply with to be accredited against the SFA Cashmere Standard. We provide training on the code of practice requirements and carry out capacity building work to improve compliance levels. Producers are certified at bronze (minimum requirements met), silver or gold (fully compliant with requirements) level. Our three-tier assurance mechanism ensures that our process for accrediting producer organisations against the SFA Cashmere Standard is robust, appropriate and credible.

Herder Level

The Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice

Conserving natural resources and native wildlife requires collective action by herding communities. The Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice requires that herders demonstrate their performance of good practice in adaptive management, indicated by preparation and implementation of a rangeland management plan that is then closely monitored. The goal is for herders to adopt active and adaptive stewardship practices that are appropriate to their situation and are most likely to improve rangeland condition and local livelihoods.

Find more information about how the SFA protects rangelands here and download a summary of the Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice here.

Animal Husbandry Code of Practice

The Animal Husbandry Code of Practice addresses the five freedoms of animal welfare in the context of Mongolian cashmere production. The code of practice includes requirements relating to food and water, living environment, health, herd management, kidding and kid management, combing and shearing, handling and transport as well as end of life and risk management plans.

In collaboration with ICCAW (International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare), we developed a joint code of practice that has been adapted for the Inner Mongolia region of China. The code of practice has been open for public consultation (information upon which can be found on our Resources page).

Find out more about our work on animal welfare here.

Processor Level

The Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice

The Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice has been developed for ‘first stage’ processing plants that scour (wash) and dehair raw cashmere fibre and is currently being piloted by several Mongolian processors. The requirements are focused on the reduction and elimination of harmful chemicals such as APEOs, efficient use of energy and water and ensuring safe, fair working environments.

Find out more about the importance of the Clean Fibre Processing Code of Practice here.

Credibility

Our assurance system was developed with reference to the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice which are a globally recognised framework that define practices for effective and credible sustainability systems.

Assurance Mechanism

Please watch this presentation with sound, to understand more about our assurance mechanism.

Impartiality

The Sustainable Fibre Alliance, its Top Management, Managers, Staff and others involved in the Certification of product fully understand the importance of impartiality in undertaking its Certification Activities.

The company will therefore ensure that in its dealings with clients or potential clients, all employees or other personnel involved in Certification Activities are, and will remain, impartial.

To ensure that impartiality is both maintained and can be demonstrated, The Sustainable Fibre Alliance has identified, and risk assessed all relationships which may result in a conflict of interest or pose a threat to impartiality.

Traceability

The SFA has developed a chain of custody model for tracing fibre from SFA Certified herders along the supply chain, allowing members to make credible claims about the content of certified cashmere in their products and to use the SFA Certified logo.

The SFA has developed a chain of custody model for tracing fibre from SFA Certified herders along the supply chain, allowing members to make credible claims about the content of certified cashmere in their products and to use the SFA Certified logo.

In 2020, we introduced a model, which traced certified cashmere all the way from herders in Mongolia to the final product, where SFA Certified fibre represented fibre that had been produced by herders that had been assessed against the Animal Husbandry Code of Practice, the Rangeland Stewardship Code of Practice and had been scoured (cleaned) and dehaired by primary processors assessed against the Clean Fibre Code of Practice.

In 2021, the chain of custody was extended into China, where certified fibre has been produced by farmers who have undergone training and robust assessment in the SFA x ICCAW Animal Welfare Code of Practice.

The standard is in the process of being harmonised across both countries.

Find out more information on our Chain of Custody visit our Resources.

Cashmere Connect is a database of herder organisations and first-stage processing plants that have been certified in the Codes of Practice, which underpin the SFA Cashmere Standard – the world’s first holistic sustainability standard for cashmere. This database also contains contact details of other participants of the Chain of Custody and SFA Members and access is open to these parties.

Beyond a Standard

The SFA is more than a standard holding body. Through training, workshops and partnerships, we promote collective action to encourage sustainable practices and build the resilience of cashmere producers for future change.

With the support of our members, we coordinate a variety of projects to benefit cashmere producers. These include fibre sorting and breeding initiatives, conservation of local wildlife, educational opportunities for youth and sustainability awards for exemplary herders. We also collaborate with a major national bank to provide low-interest loans to herders that register with the SFA.

We are working continuously at national and international levels to form strategic partnerships and bring about sector-wide transformation of the cashmere industry. We are a key partner of the UN Mongolian Sustainable Cashmere Platform and an active participant in the Round Table for Responsible Cashmere.

Link to Individual Work Programmes

Where we work